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Notes on relations between Israel and Arab states Notes on relations between Israel and Arab states
by Joseph Gatt
2019-02-06 07:46:47
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Relations between Israel and the Arab world are like a 10,000 piece jigsaw puzzle. I will give you pieces of the puzzle with lots of pieces missing. Of course, if you invite me to give a talk on the issue I'd be pleased, but then perhaps some are in a better position than myself to give such talks.

-Historically, wars between Israel and the Arab world have driven oil prices up, have shut down the Suez Canal, have led to the Arab world boycotting any country that traded with Israel.

suez01-To prevent oil prices from going up, the Suez Canal from being shut down, and the Arab world from boycotting countries that trade with Israel, the United States used carrots with the Arab world, financial incentives to avoid going to war with Israel, which would then stabilize oil prices and normalize world trade.

-Europe not having the kind of military the US has, and not willing to be involved in conflicts in the Middle East, has tended to be more cautious regarding Israel. Europe prefers to adopt a vague position where they claim to favor a “two-state solution coexisting peacefully” and has preferred to stay out of Arab states' domestic policies. Europe also does not have fortune 500 companies lobbying their governments to stabilize world trade. Most European states have between 30 and 50 multi-billion dollar companies, who are heavily taxed and whose lobbying power is limited.

-Egypt and Jordan received further financial incentives to normalize diplomatic relations with Israel. Egypt in 1979 and Jordan in 1995. Sadat was caught between a recession that was going to kill him, and normalizing relations with Israel and getting the full financial package from the United States in exchange for avoiding whimsical blockades of the Suez Canal, which unfortunately eventually killed him. Jordan is also a country devoid of natural resources in desperate need of foreign currency to import manufactured goods, and since the cold war was no longer a good reason for the US to inject cash in Jordan in exchange for capitalism, and the Soviet Union was no longer around, Jordan took the deal.

-In Morocco, King Hassan II was something of a pragmatic intellectual, who was for pragmatic peaceful resolutions to conflicts. He tended to play the go-between between the Israelis and the Palestinians, and the Arabs and Israelis in general. This until Arab states no longer took advice from Hassan II because of what Arab states perceived was the “occupation” of Western Sahara. Morocco has since repeatedly claimed that it would normalize relations with Israel in exchange for the United States vetoing any resolution against Western Sahara's Moroccan sovereignty at the United Nations.

-Mauritania, Algeria, Tunisia and Libya have no formal relations with Israel but have given the Palestinians the cold shoulder more than once. Mauritania actually normalized relations with Israel in 2003, only to ask Israelis to leave during the Gaza war in 2009, ending diplomatic relations.

-Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Bahrain, the UAE and Oman try to avoid the word “Israel” in any conversation to avoid offending the Americans. With Iran funding rebels in Iraq and Yemen, and with Iran's plans of going nuclear, Saudi Arabia and the Persian Gulf states probably have had contacts with Israel for intelligence on Iran as Iran is a direct threat. Oman has welcomed the Israeli Prime Minister; other Khaleej states have welcomed Israeli sports delegations publicly.

-Most, if not all Arab states probably have established informal contacts with Israel for information on Iran. None would ever admit those contacts. However, the tacit agreement is that Israel won't start a war with the Palestinians. Israel won't go to war with Palestine specifically because that would mess up contacts in the Arab world, and Israel would again be alone facing the Iranian threat.

-Syria and Lebanon are basically failed states with large Palestinian refugee populations, and would risk Palestinian refugee terrorism if they were ever to normalize relations with Israel. Jordan reluctantly gave Palestinian refugees citizenship and absorbed them into the kingdom to avoid such problems.

-In sum, Israelis are Arab cousins when needed, outsiders when not needed. Arab states and Iran however remain a large fraternity, with disputes and reconciliations. Algeria cut relations with Iran when Iran financed Algerian terrorist groups, but the two reconciled in 2003. Israelis remain those outsiders who “stole” Arab land. In sum, I would go on a holiday thinking the Arab-Israeli thing has been solved. 


     
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